We love love love quadruple whammy publication days! Four Atom books in one week – aren't you feeling lucky?! Malinda Lo's Huntress is in bookshops today, and to celebrate, she's written us a fantastic guest post.
As Huntress is set in the same world as Malinda's first book, Ash, we asked her what made her want to go back in time for her second book…
I am so thrilled that Huntress is officially being published in the U.K. today! This is a novel I did not know I was going to write until fall of 2008, when I was finishing up the last round of revisions on Ash and knew I had to write another novel.
When I sold Ash to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers in the U.S., I didn't think I'd be writing a second book that was related to Ash in any way — in fact, initially I thought I'd be writing a gothic boarding school mystery. (I reserve the right to do this in the future!) But during the course of writing Ash I became curious about exactly how the job of the huntress originated.
If you've read Ash, you might remember that every year during Yule, the King's Huntress leads her hunters into the City square and tosses out gold coins to the citizens. She and her hunters dance around the bonfire and sing an old hunting song. At one point in the novel, Kaisa explains to Ash:
"It is said that many hundreds of years ago, when fairies still walked the land and the King's Huntress was appointed to go between both courts, a powerful greenwitch was called upon to cast a spell that would ensure the huntress's safe return each time she visited the fairy court. But in order for the spell to hold, each time the huntress went into that other world, she had to gather all of her hunters together to chant the words, for that would bind her to this world. If they ever did not say the spell together before she left for the fairy court, she might never be able to return."
The part that I kept returning to was the idea that the huntress was appointed to go between the human and fairy worlds — sort of as an ambassador. I started to wonder how exactly that had come to be. From that kernel, I began to spin out a story about the very first huntress in the Kingdom.
I knew that I wanted certain things in the story: A girl having an adventure. A romance. A world on the verge of dying. (I'm a big fan of dystopians.) Powerful, creepy fairies. Weapons. And I wanted it to be a hero's quest. As I noted in my writing journal back in October 2008 when I was figuring out what would happen, "The point of the quest is to bring order and harmony back to the mortal world."
Putting all those things together, the book that came out was Huntress. It's very much a book that I would have wanted to read as a teen — and the kind of YA books I like to read now. I think that's my goal with every book I write: tell a story that I want to hear. I hope that you'll want hear it, too.